The Veterans Home Countries International Table Tennis Championships were hosted by the Isle of Man at the NSC last weekend.

The annual event is hosted by each of the participating countries in rotation.

Only four took part back in 1997 when Scotland hosted the inaugural event at Dundee University - England, Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Wales joined a few years later, then Guernsey, with Jersey becoming the seventh country in 2018.

The tournament has grown over the years from only one over-40s mixed team from each country in 2018.

The original Manx team consisted of Graham McFarlane, Glyn Gilbert, Les Wilson and Maggie Mulhern.

Last weekend’s event involved a total of 116 players from the seven competing nations, with the opening team event last Friday morning, continuing through to Saturday lunchtime.

Teams competed in the following age groups, men’s and women’s over-40s, men’s and women’s over-50s, over-70s and over-75s (which can be either men or women), and the over-60s is a mixed team of two/three men and one woman.

The over-40s men saw the home team of Jason Quirk and Mike Tamarov face strong opposition from all countries, losing to England, Ireland, Jersey and Wales 0-5.

They then lost 1-4 to Scotland when they picked up a great doubles win against the strong pairing of Ross Martin and Darius Szymczak.

The experienced trio of John Shooter, Chris Holland and Tim Baker picked up a fantastic 3-2 win against Guernsey in the over-50s men, the latter being a mixed team as the second Guernsey player failed to arrive. Wales kindly lent Peter Gordon to the Channel Island side. Shooter beat both Gordon and Andy Gill, then teamed up with Baker to take the doubles in impressive style 11/7 11/9 11/8.

Shooter and Baker also won their doubles in their 1-4 defeat against Scotland, with Holland only losing out to Colin Green in the fifth set.

The IoM team was unfortunate to lose 2-3 to Wales, Shooter beating John Paine in straight sets, but again winning the doubles 11/8 12/10 4/11 3/11 11/6 with Baker. Holland found John Paine too strong, going down 14/16 in the fourth end.

Against Ireland, Shooter beat Dave Gibbons, but the team lost 1-4. England proved too strong for the island, losing 0-5.

Graham McFarlane and Jackie Gill had some really tough matches in the over-75s, which sadly led to Jackie retiring injured during the Scotland game, this being the only match in which they picked up a win.

McFarlane did well to beat George Bews 8/11 11/4 2/11 13/11 11/5, losing out to Ireland, England and Guernsey 0-5.

Malcolm Cummings, Malc Lewis, Steve Curtis, Geoff Ball and Maggie Mulhern lost their opening over-60s contest against Wales 1-6.

Picking up a valuable point was the experienced mixed doubles pairing of Malc Lewis and Maggie Mulhern, taking the match in straight sets.

Ireland, Scotland and England proved too strong for the Manx team, losing each match 0-7.

Cummings defeated Martin Tupper in straight sets against Jersey, with Mulhern defeating Hilary le Cornu 6/11 11/6 11/7 11/9. Cummings picked up his second win 11/3 7/11 11/9 11/8 against Tony Wood, and Lewis beat Tupper 11/7 11/5 8/11 11/8 to secure the hosts a 4-3 victory overall.

Fielding only two players because of the withdrawal of their woman, Guernsey started the match with the IoM 0-2 down due to walkovers in the singles and mixed doubles.

Cummings recorded two more wins against Peter Vivian and Robin Vile.

Geoff Ball grabbed a tremendous win when defeating Vile 11/9 11/6 11/8, while the doubles pairing of Steve Curtis and Cummings also went on to win their men’s doubles match, sealing a 6-1 success for the Isle of Man.

The Veterans Home Countries doubles event was played on Saturday afternoon, with the singles throughout Sunday. Reports on those to follow next week.